This week, 30 Rwanda-based entrepreneurs and founders completed the first Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program held at Alibaba Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program was launched by Alibaba Business School to help entrepreneurs transform their businesses for the digital era and overcome country-specific challenges.
In partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), this inaugural Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program is customized to help solve for problems and issues that entrepreneurs face within their local ecosystem.
The program helps both digital entrepreneurs and leaders of traditional businesses, spanning from tea growers and shoe manufacturing to fintech and logistics, to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy.
The training program aims to establish digital success cases that can serve as role models for other entrepreneurs and business owners across the country, and even the entire continent.
The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program follows the launch of the first African eWTP (electronic world trade platform) hub in Rwanda witnessed by the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma last October.
Under the eWTP agreement, the Government of Rwanda and Alibaba committed to work together to strengthen the country’s economic development by promoting policy innovation and providing capacity building to empower the growth of Rwanda’s digital economy.
“We are thrilled to be launching a program that will impact businesses that can benefit most from the adoption of digital technology. We believe by sharing our lessons and experiences with local entrepreneurs, we can enable multiple segments of the local value chain and strengthen Rwanda’s overall capabilities to utilize ecommerce for local and international trade” said Brian Wong, Vice President, Alibaba Group who heads the Global Initiatives program.
“Our hope is that programs like the Alibaba Netpreneur Training program will help to build a digital economy that allows everyone to participate fully and benefit equally,” he said.
“By offering a curriculum specifically designed for Rwanda, we can provide targeted training that zeroes in on the unique needs of the local economy,” said Wong. “This way, participants can easily put into practice the skills and knowledge they learned from this program and become role models for other entrepreneurs back home.”
During the ten-day program in Hangzhou, participants met with business leaders from Alibaba Group as well as merchants on Alibaba’s platforms to learn about their own experience building up the ecommerce ecosystem in China.
The program included numerous site visits to see first-hand how the internet has completely transformed daily life in China.
The program aims to inspire and support Rwandan entrepreneurs to return home to build companies that can serve as the foundation for a digital economy.
The RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi, said, “RDB is pleased to partner with Alibaba Business Schools in transferring digital economy skills to Rwandan firms. We are committed to leveraging the digital economy to support our exporters, local producers and artisans.”
“We have already seen tremendous attention from Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s platforms in high-quality Rwandan products such as our top-tier single estate coffee, and we are confident that with the hands-on knowledge these entrepreneurs have acquired through the Netpreneur program, we will have more Made-in-Rwanda products excelling in both the local and export markets,” she added.
The Rwandan Ambassador to China, Lt. Gen Charles Kayonga, noted, “We are happy with the progress of implementation of the eWTP for Rwanda. The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program has been a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn and be inspired to build companies in Rwanda that can serve as the foundation for a digital economy.”
Lt. Gen Kayonga said that, “As a regional pioneer with a vision to become a digital hub, Rwanda needs highly skilled individuals who can steer its knowledge-based economic growth strategy. The training momentum meets the expectations of our leaders who would like to see fast implementation and sustainable results in e-commerce developments.”